Biggest cheer is vs. Rutgers

Published November 19, 2006

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The biggest cheers in the first half at Cardinal Stadium on Saturday night had nothing to do with the game being played on the field. Instead, the crowd got loudest upon hearing the out-of-town score announced over the public-address system:

Cincinnati 17, Rutgers 3 in the second quarter.

Rutgers wound up losing 30-11, opening up the possibility of Louisville winning its first Big East crown.

Rutgers gave the Cardinals their only loss on Nov. 9, so the Knights hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Louisville. But if Rutgers were to also lose in its season finale at No. 8 West Virginia on Dec. 2, Louisville could win the Big East by winning its remaining games against Pittsburgh and Connecticut.

Louisville and West Virginia could both finish with one conference loss, and the Cardinals would win that tiebreaker, having beaten the Mountaineers Nov. 2.

Louisville's fans weren't the only ones cheering for the Rutgers score: USF's slim hopes of winning a conference crown required not only a Bulls win on Saturday night, but also Rutgers losing its final three games.

BBRRRRRAHMANS: With a kickoff temperature of 46 degrees, Saturday's game matched the third-coldest in USF's 10-year history. The Bulls played in colder weather this season, losing at Cincinnati last month in 45-degree weather. The record low was last year's loss at Connecticut, where it was 33 at kickoff.

GROTHE 2K: Freshman quarterback Matt Grothe went past the 2,000-yard milestone in the first half, becoming the third Bulls quarterback to do so. Marquel Blackwell did so three times, including a school-record 2,882 yards in 2001, and Chad Barnhardt passed for 2,362 in 1997.

SLOW START: Both teams started slowly on offense, with the squads combining for six possessions before either had a first down or a completion.

Both quarterbacks made up for that on their fourth drive, with Brian Brohm going 5-for-5 for 69 yards on a possession that ended with a fumble by Kolby Smith inside the USF 5-yard line.

Grothe went 3-for-3 on his next drive, including a 43-yard pass to Amarri Jackson, but that too went for naught as Delbert Alvarado missed a 37-yard field goal.

NEW STARTER: The only change to USF's starting lineup came at left tackle, where sophomore Marc Dile took over for senior Thed Watson, who was dismissed from the team Monday for an unspecified violation of team rules.

It's the sixth different offensive line USF has used this season, and with Watson gone, the Bulls have no seniors on their offensive line.

THIS AND THAT: Grothe's running game wasn't a factor, with six sacks for 40 yards offsetting his short gains. He finished with minus-18 yards. ... Louisville tight end Gary Barnidge consistently got open for the Cardinals, catching four passes for 71 yards by early in the third quarter. His only game with more yards this year came against Cincinnati, when he had 96 yards and his lone touchdown of the season. ... USF entered as the only school that had beaten Louisville coach Bobby Petrino twice (in 2003 and 2005). Petrino went into the game with a 37-9 record, good for a .804 winning percentage in five seasons at Louisville.